A Guide to Renting a Self-Storage Unit in NYC

By Peter Vijeh, Moving to New York Guide
December 21, 2013 Updated: February 7, 2014

At some point during the moving process, or once you are here in New York, you may need to rent a storage unit. Whether you are looking for a short-term solution, or something for a longer period, self-storage can be a convenient and cost effective option. 

But, before you start contacting storage companies, there are a few things that you should know, which will save you from making costly mistakes and a lot of headache.

What is Self Storage?

Self-storage is rented storage space that you can control yourself. 

In contrast to removal companies and large storage organizations that store on your behalf, often charging hefty fees and making you play by their rules, self-storage gives you a lot more flexibility. 

Self-storage gives you access to a self-contained, fully enclosed space that can vary in size from as small as a closet to a space large enough to store all the furniture of a large well-appointed apartment. 

You maintain control of the space, and can access your belongings at any time (subject to facility hours of operation) without additional fees. In many cases, you will provide your own lock and will be the only one (or those you provide with a key) with access to the storage unit.

Picking a Self-Storage Company

First, decide how much storage space you need.

You will need to decide how much space you need before you begin contacting storage companies so that they can provide you a quote for the correct size unit. 

Keep in mind that storage units are three dimensional, (width, length, height) and that with a little creativity you can fit a whole lot of stuff into not very much space. 

A 10x10x8 foot space, for instance, would be adequate to store all the furniture of a very well-appointed 1 bedroom apartment plus plenty of boxes, and you will still have enough space left over to play a game of soccer.

How close do you need to be to your items? Keep in mind that renting storage units in Manhattan will be much more expensive than renting in another borough. 

If you do not need to be near your items, consider renting in the most economical neighborhoods rather than ones that are nearby.

Do you need 24-hour access to your items? Many storage locations are only accessible during limited business hours. 

If you need 24-hour access to your items then this can be a quick way to screen for storage locations that will be able to meet your needs.

Do any of your items have special storage considerations? If you have antiques or other fragile items that require a climate controlled environment to stay in good shape this is something you will need to inquire about with the storage companies that you contact. 

Most storage space in NYC is within large enclosed buildings and usually has some kind of climate control.

Contacting Storage Companies

It is a good idea to contact at least three storage companies that meet your needs so that you can inquire about pricing. 

While getting quotes for a storage unit may sound pretty straight forward, you should know that many storage companies have a policy of quoting very low prices, and then once you decide to move the process forward with them they start bringing up additional fees. 

In order to get accurate quotes for the total expense that you will incur, we suggest asking the following questions.

Questions to Ask Storage Companies

– Are there any move in fees or move out fees?
– When can the lease be terminated and with how much notice?
– Is any insurance or damage liability included in the rental fee or is there a separate fee for those features?
Most storage companies do not take on the liability for damage or theft of your items while in storage. You must purchase additional insurance to cover yourself from these risks.
– How much do you charge for pickup and delivery services?
– Is assistance bringing items down from my apartment included in the cost or is there an extra fee?
– (If you live in a walk-up) Is there an extra fee for moving assistance in walk-up buildings? Many companies will charge an extra fee for each flight of stairs that they must climb. 
– Is there any additional equipment that I will need to provide?
– What security systems do you have in place?
Note that sometimes curbside pickup will be included free of charge (or rather, already included in your rental rate).

When calling storage companies for a quote, make sure that you are diligent about covering all this information so that you get an accurate idea of the total cost of renting a unit. 

Many storage companies will try to hide fees from you until you have invested significant amounts of time in the rental agreement process, don’t let this happen to you.

Peter Vijeh is the editor of Movingtonewyorkguide.com, a resource for people relocating to New York City.